الثلاثاء، 2 أغسطس، 2011

Officials: Israeli PM Ready to Negotiate Borders

Israeli officials say Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has agreed to negotiate the borders of a future Palestinian state using the 1967 cease-fire line that delineates the West Bank as a starting point for talks.

Sources in the prime minister's office revealed the dramatic policy shift to Israeli media outlets late Monday. They said that in order to restart direct peace negotiations with the Palestinians, Mr. Netanyahu would be willing to discuss a proposal containing a formula on borders "that would be difficult for Israel to accept."

Officials said Mr. Netanyahu made clear that Israel will not return to the borders it had before the 1967 Six-Day War. They said demographic changes that have taken place since then - the expansion of Jewish settlements in the West Bank - must be taken into account.

The officials also said that in exchange for the concession, Palestinians must recognize Israel as a Jewish state and retract a unilateral application for statehood likely to be submitted to the United Nations next month.

Palestinian officials said they have not received such a proposal from Israel.

Earlier this year, U.S. President Barack Obama proposed negotiations based on the pre-1967 borders plus agreed swaps of territory between Israel and a Palestinian state.

Western-sponsored peace negotiations broke off just weeks after intensive efforts to renew them last September, in a dispute over Jewish settlement building in the West Bank.

Palestinians have demanded that Israel stop all settlement construction before peace talks resume. Mr. Netanyahu wants negotiations with no preconditions in which issues like borders and settlements would be discussed.

Most of the world considers the 1967 line to be a legitimate frontier, while Israel has always insisted it is just a temporary truce line that does not dictate the location of the border.

Earlier Monday, Israeli troops killed two Palestinian men during clashes at a refugee camp in the West Bank. Israeli officials said the soldiers shot the men at the Qalandiya camp after clashes that included young men throwing stones at the troops.

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